Before I get into this delicious quinoa salad, I wanted to brag about a really cool gift I got from my sister this year.
Reusable produce bags! How smart is that? I always have one of those lightweight reusable totes in my purse to cut down on the number of plastic grocery bags I use, but now I can do that with produce bags too!
Ok and one more thing that has vastly improved my life: I just realized a few weeks ago that I could just write the best-before date on the carton of my already opened stock so I know how long it’ll be safe to use. Right? Riiiight? Ugh, there are some things that it takes me an embarrassingly long time to figure out.
So I’ve never really gotten the quinoa obsession. As a lifelong vegetarian, it’s one of those foods that people assume you eat constantly, like tofu and salads. I’ve only ever tried it as a side dish at vegetarian restaurants and I’m always underwhelmed by it.
That is, until last month when I visited my sister in her new home in London, Ontario. We braved a blizzard to go out and see the newest Hunger Games movie, and on the way home we popped into Loblaws to grab some dinner. My brother-in-law raved about their prepared salads, so we got one with red and white quinoa and a bunch of other ingredients. After I had three helpings of it, I knew I was going to have to reverse engineer it! I jotted down my notes on the ingredients: charred corn, red pepper, green onion, feta, baby spinach. There was definitely a hint of heat to it and a touch of lemon in the dressing. I think this is a pretty accurate version!
And the best part of this salad is how freaking delicious it is the next day. So it makes a great lunch if, like me, you’ve recently thought to yourself, “Hmmm, maybe you should spend 15 minutes making yourself a lunch for work instead of spending $11 a day on something gross and uninspiring!”
Accidentally Festive Quinoa Salad
Googling a variety of the ingredients lead me to this salad, although I used my own memory more than I followed it.
- 1 cup golden and black quinoa (although it works just as well with white quinoa!)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 341 ml can whole corn kernels, drained and rinsed well
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 5 green onions, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 2 cups baby spinach, shredded (I used my kitchen shear to cut them into strips)
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp dried parsley (I would have used fresh if I hadn’t recently murdered my window herb garden)
- the juice of half a lemon
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup crumbled feta
Start by bringing the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once it’s boiling, add the quinoa, give it a quick stir and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 12 minutes, then remove from heat. Let is sit for five minutes, then fluff it with a fork.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, then add the drained and rinsed corn. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally (but don’t stir it too much as you want the corn to get some colour on it!). Once it’s nicely browned, take it off the heat and set aside to cool.
Start chopping your vegetables, adding them to a large salad bowl as you go. Once your quinoa and corn are both done, add them to the bowl. You can either let them fully cool or you can leave them a little warm if you want a warm salad. Add the lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil and the seasonings. You may want to add a touch more lemon juice or red pepper depended on how tart and spicy you like thing seasoned! Finally, crumble some feta into the salad and mix well.
Just look at that pile of deliciousness!
I put a little more feta on top because my other New Year’s resolution is cheese-based (inspired by this hilarious cartoon).